The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have announced that they are pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. This comes after six cases of rare blood clots were reported around two weeks after receiving the vaccine.
The type of blood clot seen in these cases is known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), the same type witness in the AstraZeneca reports from Europe. The agencies report that CVST was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets and that all six cases occurred among women aged 18 to 48. The symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after the single-dose vaccination.
The move was presented as an abundance of caution from the agencies. The CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on April 14 to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. The FDA will then review the analysis as it also investigates the case.
“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” the agencies wrote in a joint statement.
No medical treatment or procedure is completely risk-free but it is important to see these numbers in context, There are no reports of deaths from this jab, while the mortality of COVID-19 in the general population is around one in a thousand (higher if you are at-risk). Understanding the range of possible side effects is crucial to minimize the risks and this investigation will hopefully help with that.